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What should I be using for containers?

ManderMander GatesheadPosts: 182
A really basic question but I think I've been doing it all wrong. What kind of stuff should I actually be using to fill containers and planters with? Up to now I've just been buying bags of cheap compost or the homemade stuff. But that isn't really soil as such. Should I get a bag of topsoil or something like that to mix with the compost when I repot things? 

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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,664
    It depends what you want to grow.
    Home made compost isn't the same as commercial stuff, and is really just a soil conditioner, although it's fine for partially filling large pots, especially for bulbs or anything that requires little nourishment. 
    Anything staying long term in a pot needs a soil based medium. Compost of any kind is no use. Compost alone is fine for annuals or just potting on small plants etc.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,605
    For pots I purchase mid-priced 'potting soil'.. and then mix it with about 1/3 garden soil from my raised beds.  I feel it both increases the amount of soil (reducing cost) and adds in beneficial microorganisms for better plant growth.  I do the same with my house plants.  
    Utah, USA.
  • Anything for a seasonal display gets multi-purpose and anything permanent gets John Innes 2 or 3 for me.
  • ManderMander GatesheadPosts: 182
    The pots I'm thinking of are mostly either shrubs that don't have a permanent home yet or that I want to keep contained, miscellaneous perennials, bulbs, etc. Some have a mix of garden soil and compost but I don't want to dig up too much of my limited garden soil. 

    What sort of words should I be looking for if I were to order some bags? 

  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,605
    John Innes 3 or JI3.  
    Utah, USA.
  • derbyduckderbyduck Posts: 137
    Mander said:
    A really basic question but I think I've been doing it all wrong. What kind of stuff should I actually be using to fill containers and planters with? Up to now I've just been buying bags of cheap compost or the homemade stuff. But that isn't really soil as such. Should I get a bag of topsoil or something like that to mix with the compost when I repot things? 
    add some mole hill soil ,about 50 /50 to your compost, have a ride out and take a bucket and trowel with you .
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 683
    I'd expand a little on what @derbyduck says.  My only knowledge of Gateshead is one visit to the athletics stadium but, if you venture occasionally into the surrounding countryside, without violating it you can benefit from it.  The roadside ditch outside our place gradually silts up every 2-3 years, so I go out with my shovel and wheelbarrow to avail myself of 4-5 barrow loads of nice loamy silt, keep the ditch clear, and get the soil I need.  Admittedly we live in open country but no-one's likely to object to that sort of thing?
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 15,816
    For shrubs I mix soil with manure and bought compost, add blood, fish and bone fertiliser then top up the top third with bought compost to keep the weeds down. But if I didn't have soil I would use John Innes 3.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • ManderMander GatesheadPosts: 182
    I hate to think what the local kids and fly tippers have dumped around here  :p: However I have gone down to the local woods to forage for blackberries and such and nobody has ever objected, so I could consider it. I'm probably just being stingy with the garden soil.
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